On the Air This Week

Highlights from Sep. 27 to Oct. 4

Tuesday, 9 pm: Classical Live: live from Walt Disney Hall, the season opener of the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Gustavo Dudamel and guest soloist Herbie Hancock

Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: The Pacifica Quartet

Friday, 8 pm: the Minnesota Orchestra‘s season opener includes music of Stephen and Greg Paulus and Ravel

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Finnished Business

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The Minnesota Orchestra plays Beethoven and Bruckner

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in Mozart, Adams, and Strauss

ERIN KEEFE: New Minnesota Orchestra Concertmaster

After a two-year search, the Minnesota Orchestra announced today that American violinist Erin Keefe will be the orchestra’s new concertmaster.

Keefe was born in Massachussettes in 1980, studied at Curtis and Juilliard, and is a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

She begins officially as concertmaster right away, at the Orchestra’s season opening concerts September 29 to October 1. Her September 30 concert will be broadcast live on Classical MPR. Meanwhile, here’s Erin talking about her life as a musician, and playing a gorgeous Sibelius Romance:

Vote for the Fitz!

Our own Fitzgerald Theater is in the running for a historic preservation grant from Partners in Preservation from American Express. And it’s being run in a fairly interesting — and competitive — way.

They’re taking votes on Facebook. You have to “like” their page in order to get access to the voting. You can vote every day through October 12, 2011.

The popular vote winner will get $125,000. If the Fitz wins, they’ll be able to restore and repaint the ornate plaster ceiling and trim in the lobby and theater; repair the balcony railings and update directional signage.

How to vote:

• Go to facebook.com/PartnersinPreservation

• “Like” the page, if you haven’t already, authorize your account.

• Find Fitzgerald Theater in the list of sites. Click on the vote button.

• Cast your vote for us! (and feel free to share with your Facebook friends…)

• Repeat tomorrow!

On the Air This Week

Highlights from Sep. 20 to 27

Wednesday, noon: Music with Minnesotans: Peter Rothstein

Wednesday, 8 pm: Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice, performed by the Minnesota Opera

Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: the University of Minnesota Symphonic Wind Band in music of Alex Shapiro

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: More from the BBC Prom

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast:From the Proms, the Philadelphia Orchestra

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in music of Franz Schreker and Gustav Mahler

Tuesday, 7 pm 9 pm: Classical Live: live from Walt Disney Hall, the season opener of the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Gustavo Dudamel and guest soloist Herbie Hancock

Mindy Ratner spends the day at Pere Lachaise

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Mindy Ratner

Not long ago, I took off for a couple of weeks for what was a vacation in the very best sense – time spent far away, in the company of friends. No plans, other than making sure that I was in the right place at the right time to catch a train, or a good night’s sleep.

Paris was at its beautiful best, and I spent the better part of a day wandering around the Père Lachaise Cemetery in the 20th Arrondissement (that’s the fancy French word for “district”). Turns out it was just a few yards — or meters, I suppose — from the place where I was staying. If you like looking for famous people, chances are you’ll find many in Père Lachaise.

And I did.

It felt like a pilgrimage, wandering here and there on a quest to find the burial places of Frederic Chopin and Georges Bizet and Edouard Lalo. Gioacchino Rossini was buried there as well, having spent his later years in the City of Lights, although his remains were repatriated to Italy a long time ago. I forget how many others I saw, although the search for Poulenc’s grave was a bit amusing. A French friend and I were a bit turned around, and we were approached by a plump elderly woman who heard us speaking English; she asked helpfully “Are you looking for Jim Morrison (of The Doors)?” I guess she pegged my age group in an instant!

Ah, Père Lachaise, the final resting place of so many great composers and artists and dancers and playwrights and philosophers. The list goes on, and there’s so much I missed this time around. The empty urn of Maria Callas, Alphonse Daudet of L’Arlesienne fame (with Bizet’s lovely score), Liszt’s lover Marie d’Agoult, and the great jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France are just a few who come to mind.

Guess I’ll have to get back there one of these days…

Mindy Ratner, Classical MPR host

More Info: List of those buried at Père Lachaise

Marvelous Spanish pianist Javier Perianes on today at 10:00

Javier Perianes has just recorded music of Manuel de Falla with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, but he tells an interviewer that he hasn’t decided yet whether he even wants to be a concert pianist!

He’s a stellar musician, and says that he’s on a ‘musical journey’ now to find his voice and that competitions (which he has won many) sometimes don’t find the best musicians even if they find the best technician. Read the article here.

What a gorgeous piece Javier Perianes plays at 10:00 – Falla’s ” Nights in the Gardens of Spain.” Don’t miss it!

Happy Birthday, Arnold Schoenberg

Arnold Schoenberg

Arnold Schoenberg changed Western music forever, and he paid the price throughout his life. There aren’t too many people who like to listen to his music; nor do those listeners particularly enjoy the works of his students, like Alban Berg or Anton Webern.

Here is a fact, though, for your consideration: There exists music today that you adore, and it wouldn’t exist if Arnold Schoenberg hadn’t stuck to his principles.

Interestingly enough, he hated having his music called “atonal,” and preferred the term “pantonal.” He’d been writing music for years before he completely abandoned tonality in 1908 (when he “emancipated the dissonance”), so his earlier works are a treasure trove of insight.

My plea is this: if you hate the music, please don’t hate the man. He endured a lifetime of struggle and criticism, but clung tightly to his vision. Gustav Mahler tirelessly supported Schoenberg, even if Mahler didn’t always understand what Schoenberg’s goals were artistically.

I urge you to read Milton Babbitt’s article, “Who Cares if You Listen?”, from 1958. I’ve mentioned it before, and I do consider it a must-read for classical music listeners. The writing might be thick, but provides valuable insight into what potentially went through the minds of “atonal” composers.

The Knights on TV

The Knights is the name of a superb young chamber orchestra in New York.

Classical MPR has presented them at the Minnesota State Fair, and the core/founding string quartet, Brooklyn Rider, has also played at the fair, on Performance Today, at The Cedar, and the Stillwater Music Festival.

Now The Knights are the subject of a television documentary produced by the PBS station in NYC. It was broadcast last week, and now you can watch online, here. Look for glowing comments from Yo-Yo Ma, our own Fred Child from Performance Today, and LOTS of fantastic music making: incomparable performances of works by Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, Copland, Jimi Hendrix, and more.

Watch the full episode. See more THIRTEEN Specials.